It’s finally FALL!!!

fallgrass

I had to turn the heat on this morning. As I left this morning to take the toddler to school, there was frost on my windows and on the grass. It will be 80 degrees today. It’s fall, y’all! Yes, I know, pumpkin everything has been out for weeks, but here in Georgia, it doesn’t FEEL like fall until you’re running the heat in the morning and the A/C at night. It’s time to dress in layers… that sweater of the morning will have you a sweaty mess before afternoon. Don’t go packing away all the shorts and tanks yet, though… We’ve seen 80 degrees on Turkey Day many times.

So as I sit and crochet items to put in my lifewithmommy Etsy store and work on adding Christmas and winter cards and invitations to my WrittenSimply Etsy store, I’m not really feeling it. It’s only a little over 2 months until Christmas. I know I need to get stuff done, but how can I be excited about spitting out hats and scarves and such when it’s 80 degrees? Until this morning it didn’t FEEL like fall. Thank the Good Lord that the morning dew became frost so I can get some boogie in my butt to get this stuff done!

  

What’s on my hook

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I have so many works in progress that I’m a little overwhelmed. Christmas is coming. I need gifts. I need stuff to sell. I need cute things for the kids in my life to wear. It’s a jungle of yarn around here… so here are a few patterns I’m working on currently-

A hat and bootie set for a friend- Just like the one I made for another friend recently. You can find that post here.

A sweater for my mother- like this, but with white and gray and light blue for the colors.

Minion Hats for a Halloween costume for a friends kids.

An infinity scarf and boot cuff set for my niece- Pattern being written as I go.

A hat for my hubby.

What’s on your hook?

  

Hat and bootie set- hat pattern included

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A friend of mine, the fabulous Katelyn, asked me to put together a hat and ballet shoes for a friend having a little girl. I had fun with this one.

It’s a simple double crochet cross-stitch (skip stitch, dc, dc in skipped stitch) after the increase rounds are finished with 3 rows of single crochet in alternate color and then a simple chain 3 ruffle edge. I embellished with a bow since the mom in this case isn’t too girly. This is my first written pattern, so let me know if it doesn’t work as intended.

Items needed-

  • 2 colors of worsted weight yarn- I used partial skeins of ILTY in gray and pink
  • Size G hook
  • scissors

Here goes-this pattern is intended for newborn. You can increase the size by continuing to the increase rows to the size needed and then starting the criss-cross pattern.

Round 1- Magic ring- Chain 2, DC 10 times in ring, join

Round 2- chain 2, 2 DC in each stitch around, join

Round 3-  chain 2. 2 DC in first stitch, DC in next stitch* around, join

Round 4- chain 2, 2 DC in first stitch, DC in next 2 stitches* around, join

Round 5- chain 2, 2 DC in first stitch, DC in next 3 stitches* around, join

Round 6-10- chain 2, skip 1st stitch, DC in next stitch, DC in skipped stitch* around, join

Round 11-13- alternate color – chain 1, SC in each stitch around, join

Round 14-15- chain 2, skip 1st stitch, DC in next stitch, DC in skipped stitch* around, join

Edge- chain 3, sc in next stitch* around, join, finish off.

Weave in ends

For the bow-

chain 15

SC in 2nd chain from hook and across, turn and repeat for 4 rows. It should look like a wide, thin rectangle. Wrap yarn around the middle until you get a nice center and tie off. Sew or crochet onto hat.

For the shoes I used this pattern by Haley M on Ravelry-

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/flower-slippers-3

I made a bow instead of the flower to embellish and did an SC edge in alternating color to match the hat.

  

The C word

No not that C word, you gutter brain. I’m talking about Cancer. The one disease that we’ve all heard about and hope never happens to us. Let me tell you a little story…

My husband is 58 (yes I’m 37… it’ll be okay). Due to prior family history, my husband has been tested twice per year for elevated PSA  (prostate specific antigen)since he was 48 or so. Well over the last 2 years we’ve seen slight increases, but nothing too concerning. In February that changed. His PSA came back elevated at 4.7. We retested- 4.2. What does that mean, you ask. It means it’s time for a biopsy. It means there is a greatly increased chance of prostate cancer. It means you’re scared sh!tless.

ProstateCancerInfographic

Off he goes to have a biopsy at the urologist. This is a procedure where they stick a machine up your bum and take samples of the prostate. It’s loud, painful, and torturous if the doctor doesn’t believe in any form of pain relief or sedation. Thus was the case for hubs. Alas, he did the deed, and we waited for results. And waited. And waited. 3 weeks is forever when you’re waiting to find out if something is eating away at your body. Finally, the day came for the results.

You walk into a room not unlike the GYN room we women are faced with. On the patient exam table is a box of tissues. You’re left there for what seems like ages, staring at this box of tissues, before the doctor finally comes in. He delivers the news- You have cancer. Not a little, but 9 out of 12 samples. Your only option is complete removal and let’s set up a bone scan to make sure there’s no metastasis. No one smiles as you leave. No one tells you it’s going to be okay. No one cares.

Because we have an almost 2 year old (at that time) who’d fallen asleep, my husband opted to take the appointment alone and left me in the car. He was shell shocked. I called my mom from the car while I’m waiting (not my mother- different story, different time) and she says to get a second opinion. Not about whether it’s cancer, but about how to treat it. She’s been through cancer before.

After some discussion, we decided we did indeed want another opinion and we needed to figure this out. We are blessed to now have Cancer Treatment Centers of America on the other side of Atlanta. We are even more blessed that they’re completely covered by our insurance. We gave them a call and set an appointment. He went through with the bone scan and got the reports- no metastasis! Yay!

We got an appointment with CTCA for the next week. Between that initial contact and the appointment, we talked to several people. And they all seemed to genuinely care about how we’re doing. We went for 3 days to CTCA, staying in a hotel room and taking our little man along with us. We’re a team and that’s how we roll. CTCA had options. Not just removal, but several types of radiation, chemo, and surgical options. Praise God for guiding us to another opinion.

After some deliberation and meeting with urology, oncology, and radiation doctors, we decided on a minimally invasive treatment plan. It’s a radiation therapy called HDR Brachy Therapy. Basically, they give you enough radiation in each treatment as they would for a 3 week period, but it’s all targeted to the specific tumor/capsule area. This only works if the cancer is contained. After MRI and volume studies they determined that it was incapsulated and that this would be a good option for treatment. It takes time to set this up, so in the meantime to stop further growth and shrink the tumors, they gave him a hormonal chemo shot then, and another 4 weeks later.

This week we started the HDR Brachy therapy. It started a 7:30am and we were released to head back to the hotel at 3:30am. Ethan was a little champ. Not really complaining, just rolling along and doing what we needed. Hubs is handling it well overall. He’s tired and achy and run down a bit, but so far it’s not nearly as bad as we feared. We go for round 2 on Nov 3. If all goes well, that should finish the cancer nuking process and we should be able to move on with our lives. He’ll always have to be tested, and we will always have to worry it will come back, but worrying accomplishes nothing, so we’ll try to follow the path God leads us on and move forward from there.

A few facts about prostate cancer-

  • Most usually it’s diagnosed in men over 50, more often in men over 70
  • 1 in 6 men will statistically have prostate cancer
  • If your father had it, the likelihood increases to 1 in 3
  • PSA testing and digital rectal exams are the most common methods of diagnosis
  • Diagnosis is key, as it’s highly treatable in early stages
  • Prostate cancer metastasizes to the lymph nodes and from there to the bones

Get checked! Nag your husbands to get checked!

  

Quick shrimp pesto pasta

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Okay, I’m the first to admit, any recipe that is quick or easy is going to go on my menu plan before anything even remotely time consuming. My life is too busy to be that supermom that makes complicated dishes and serves them up with flair most nights. Some nights I’m barely able to get a meat and a starch on the table that isn’t full of processed crapola.

Recently, I decided to start trying out some new quick and easy dinner recipes to see if maybe I can get the combination of picky toddler/picky hubby to eat them. So far shrimp pesto pasta has been a win. Little man picks out and eats the pasta, big man covers it in hot sauce, mom gets dinner on the table in 30 minutes. Go me.

Keep in mind most of what I use is organic, or from GMO free pledged stores. Most of what I use can be made with standard store bought goods, though.

So here is what you need:

1 bag frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined- 24-30ct

small container heavy cream (8oz is fine)

2 cups of grated Italian blend cheese (or grate your own mix

4 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

3 tbsp pesto (or more if you like)

garlic salt to taste

half a box of penne pasta

Fill pot with water and bring to a boil. Add pasta.

Start by melting a tablespoon or so of butter in a pan on med-high heat.

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Add garlic salt and shrimp.

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Saute until pink and firm, but don’t overcook. Remove to a separate plate.

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Melt remaining butter in  same pain over medium heat.

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Once butter is melted, add flour.

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Whisk until all flour is wet and thickens almost to a paste. Do not burn.

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Add cream a little at a time, whisking to incorporate and thickening some before adding more.

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Add pesto and a handful of the Italian cheese. Whisk until thickened a bit… about the consistency of alfredo sauce.

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Drain pasta (should be al dente)

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Add pasta to sauce.

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Add shrimp to pasta and sauce and mix in well.

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Cover with remaining cheese.

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Cover pan with lid and let simmer for 3-4 minutes or until cheese melts on top.

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All done! I usually serve with dinner rolls, crescents, or french bread if I’ve had time to make bread. You can chop up and add fresh spinach or sauteed/steamed broccoli to this as well. I usually steam or saute broccoli and serve along side. The whole meal from start to finish takes me about 30 minutes, most of that being waiting for the water to boil for the pasta.

So there you have it. Fast and easy. If you’re not a fan of shrimp, you can substitute sauteed chicken, but make sure you cook it through before adding to the pasta.

Happy eating, y’all.

  

Back in the saddle…

wintercarnival

For the first time since late 2010, I decided to have a table/booth at the Winter Carnival at my sons preschool. As some of you know, we used to have a retail store selling hand crafted (by me) soaps, candles, bath and body products, etc. When we closed the store, I simply stopped. Stopped selling, stopped crafting, stopped doing what I enjoy. Since then, I’ve had a son, moved twice, and had so many life changes that I didn’t feel the lapse as I might have otherwise.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I took a hit emotionally that I’d somehow managed to bury when we were forced to give up our hard earned  dream and go home. I guess more than my finances took a punch at that point. My confidence did, too. Why wasn’t what I made good enough? Did I let my husband, family, friends down by not coming through? Did I let God down by not being a proper steward of his provisions?

The true villain in our disastrous business failure was the tanking of the economy. We held on until we couldn’t. Unfortunately, when most of the locals are struggling with putting gas in their cars and food in their bellies in the same week, custom soaps and candles weren’t on the menu. Even with all that’s happened, we have so many blessings that it’s hard to complain. I have a beautiful son, a husband who loves me, a God who never fails me though I fail him daily, and a nice home, and wonderful extended family.

For the last 3 years, we’ve stubbornly held on to enough raw materials, candles, soaps, etc., that when asked if we wanted to do a booth at the carnival, I figured it’d be a good way to get my toes in the water again. And it was. We managed to make a little money out of it. Most importantly, though, was the opportunity to help the school. Second, I’d have to say that having some of my customers from our original storefront come over and purchase goods, and tell me how much they loved our products and how much they missed us really soothed my soul. It was a salve to wounds I thought had healed long ago. And it was the push I needed to start doing a little of the crafting I love again. I’d say that’s a pretty amazing day.

  

Reflections in the Georgia Mountains

Living in the suburbs to the north of Atlanta, we are really not that far from the North Georgia Mountains and the various state parks that are peppered through them. We took an afternoon in early October and went to Lake Winfield Scott in Suches, GA which is just outside of Dahlonega. This is a beautiful and scenic spot. We stretched out a blanket with our little man and snacked on some delightful confections from the chocolate shop in Dahlonega. I somehow managed to focus my camera on something other than the amazing cuteness that was my son that afternoon.

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I was drawn to the changing colors of the leaves on the trees and wanted a closer look. As I was focusing I realized just how awesome the reflections beyond were in contrast.

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I love the way the light was filtering through the trees here.

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I enjoyed watching people take in the beauty of  God’s creations from the path across the water. The reflections on the calm waters were quite pretty here.

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You can see the clear and magnificent blue skies in the reflections in this shot. It was such a glorious day in early fall.

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Last one… and my favorite. Reflections and Light. Mountains and water. Tranquility in nature. Ahhh.

  

13 tested and approved Pinteresting easy recipes!

Pinteresting Meals

As a stay at home mother, I’m the one who does all the cooking and cleaning along with taking care of my little super baby. I’m often looking for quick and easy recipes for breakfast, dinner, or dessert and Pinterest is a treasure trove of recipes- some good, some not so good. I’m not one to follow a recipe exactly, but I’ll tell you what changes I’ve made to make these work for us. Here’s a few that I have tried and gotten good reviews on from the fam…

I’m starting with dessert because life is short and you never know if you’ll get to have it. Here are a few of my favorite easy recipes for dessert-

Peach Cobbler Dump Cake

1. Peach Cobbler Dump Cake- man oh man this was tasty good stuff! Served hot with icecream on top- oh mama!

nutella crescents

2. Nutella Crescent Rolls- quick and easy, these made everyone happy! They’re best eaten hot. I’m considering adding some sweetened cream cheese to the next batch.

icecream in a bag

3. Homemade Icecream in Baggies – Easy, extra tasty, kid friendly and not packed full of all the stuff even “natural” icecream is at the grocery store! Who ever wanted to eat guar gum anyway?! (This goes excellent with the Peach Cobbler Dump Cake!)

Okay, so now for some easy recipes for dinner options-

broccolichickencasserole

4. Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole – This is a perfect quick and super low carb casserole! With no rice or potatoes, I was a little skeptical at first… but with a diabetic in the house I’m always looking for low carb options. This certainly fit the bill and it got the husbands seal of approval. That’s good stuff!

buffchix

5. Buffalo Chicken Garbage Bread – This doesn’t sound like a meal, but it easily becomes one. I’ve used this recipe to make all kinds of buffalo chicken goodness. I add cream cheese to the filling. It’s similar to buffalo chicken dip, which makes it pretty versatile. I’ve used the filling for a pizza topping, to fill crescent rolls and make “hot pockets”, as filling for cups using biscuit dough pressed into a muffin tin, as filling for a grilled cheese panini… I’m sure I’ll come up with more in time…

parmchix

6. Parmesan Crusted Chicken – Really quick and easy. I initially tried this because I had mistakenly purchased a jar of the dressing style mayo and held onto it since I’m not one for wasting food. Turns out that was a very fortunate instance of hoarding! Hubby likes this one very much.

dijobchix

7. Man Pleasing Chicken – Very much like dijon chicken, but definitely a bit sweeter and just a bit more savory. It’s a really nice dish that’s easy to put together and get dinner done.

I’m always looking for a quick side dish… these easy recipes have gone over well.

Baked-Zuccini-With-Mozzerella

8. Baked Zucchini with Mozzarella – Quick and tasty! I’ll often make this with grilled chicken or steak.

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9. Crash Hot Potatoes – Really nice side with a grilled steak and a salad!

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10. Roasted Cabbage Wedges – Another good and quick one… goes well with most baked or grilled meats.

 

Breakfast- the most important (and time limited) meal of the day…

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11. Oatmeal Smoothies – Nice and filling easy recipe and good to go.

oatmeal

12. Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal – These are sooooo yummy! There are so many flavor combinations and options. You can truly make these your own. Fill up a few jars the night before and you’ve got breakfast ready when you wake up or you’re ready to go!

egg-muffins

13. Egg muffins/mini fritas – Really these are just mini omelets or fritas cooked in a muffin tin. Add whatever fillings/toppings you like and make up a batch. Easily reheated and easy to take on the go.

So most of this is just fast, easy, and inexpensive fare. Most importantly, it’s oh so tasty!

  

Lasagna Sandwich- Yum!

lasagna

So I happened to see this lovely recipe posted on Facebook from Taste of Home last week. Immediately, I began thinking about how potentially yummy lasagna on a bun could be. So I made it last night… we finished the leftovers tonight… and it was really good! If you have one of those nights where you need something fairly easy to put together and pop in the oven while you’re doing the million and one things that must be done in the momtastic world, this could be it!

 

Hope y’all enjoy!

  

Things I’ve learned about a teething baby…

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- There will be much whining and crying.

–  The amount of sleep you get will decrease rapidly depending on the number of teeth and the location.

– A cold + teething 2 upper teeth is akin to a visit in Hell as far as I can imagine.

– Sanity is fleeting.

These are just a few small things I’ve picked up the last 2 weeks. My beautiful, sweet, happy little baby boy has become possessed by whatever demon bring teething pain. He’s whiny, sometimes mean, and in general unhappy. His mouth hurts. I get that. Nothing I do can make it right. The only thing that will make it right is for the teeth to finish their torturous arrival. But man, oh man, I am tired. I am wavering on some precipice of sanity that alters day by day. Those new teeth sure are cute though!